“Above all, do not fear your strength. Glorify God with it.”
– Lisa Bevere
If ever there has been a gate that has been outrightly dismissed as ungodly and unsalvageable, it’s this one. Perhaps it’s second only to the Gate of Government given the opinions people hold about politics.
I get it. When Satan was still Lucifer – an Angel of Light – this was his domain.
And as creatives, our greatest Achilles’ heel is wanting others to worship us (our gift). Exalt us (our gift) above others. It’s what led to Lucifer’s downfall and it’s has similarly led to many a wrecked artist life.
However, the possible danger of downfall doesn’t qualify us to altogether abandon our nature and our mission. It’s a call for us to be all the more dependent on the One who has called us. Because the power of the Holy Spirit in us, is far greater than the power of the devil working in the world around us. If Jesus’ death and resurrection was powerful enough to break the chains of death, you want to tell me rock music as a genre is somehow beyond His reach and power?
Power belongs to the one who controls the flow of information and the narrative of the same.
We live in a world where that power has been somewhat cascaded down to individuals with all the advancements made in the digital sphere. With a social media account, you can voice your opinion about pretty much anything in the world.
With power and influence, comes responsibility.
Sadly, I don’t think our sense of responsibility has grown as quickly as we have been to hop onto the social media bandwagon. There’s plenty of material out there with a lot of thoughtful Christian commentary about this that I don’t want to get into right now.
But I will say this – if your use of social media glorifies self, others or things, more than God, then you may need to rethink why you’re there. It’s not as straightforward as many may think. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and glorify God at the same time.
The arts are a gateway used to express the beauty that is in the world. And in a world where so much seems to go wrong, and stay wrong, on a daily basis, being reminded of the beautiful, wonderful things that still do exist is a powerful thing.
Christian talk majors a lot on faith and rightfully so. But often, hope ends up by the wayside despite it being the anchor that keeps faith steady. Think about it. Faith is evidence in the unseen. You have to believe in and look forward to the possibility of something different from what already is, for you to have faith. And as Jenn Johnson puts it: “hope is the joyful expectation of good”. You can’t have faith without hope.
And if there’s one power art has – it’s the ability to give hope.
It’s a double-edged sword though, because it equally has the ability to crush hope.
The difference comes in who art tells you to have hope in.
Hope in a person, humanity, in man-made solutions, in the world, in anything exalted above God is sinking sand. None of those things are constant. As human beings, we can be as fickle as we can be resolute; a shift that can occur within moments.
Hope that enthrones God as Lord over all, is the steady rock our lives need to be built on. Because God is constant. His nature doesn’t waver and hope that is placed in Him will not put us to shame.
That’s why creators need continual revelation of the Creator. The One who started it all. That in all our diverse expressions of art we would exalt the One who is worthy of glory. That our art would be first and foremost a response of worship to our Maker. For out of that posture, will flow life-giving hope.
Those close to me will tell you that one of my biggest pet peeves is Christian entertainment or I should say, lack of good, excellent Christian entertainment.
I’m not talking about the gospel – the let me tell you/testify about Jesus stuff.
I’m talking about entertainment – the let’s have fun, thoughtful, impactful moments of relaxation in God’s presence.
*This differentiation is for the purpose of this post. People categorize these things in varying ways.*
I get amused by the argument that all Christian musicians should only sing gospel songs; I have to restrain myself from pointing out the existence of Song of Songs in the Bible just to see what they’ll say about that. Especially considering there are one too many “gospel” songs out there that while they have several mentions of Jesus are absolutely devoid of revelation, power and authority. They’re just clanging cymbals, to borrow the words of Paul.
Christians need wholesome entertainment too. At least, I know, I do. And I consider Christian entertainment done right as an expression of Sabbath – the rest of God.
A lot of the stuff I’ve encountered in the name of Christian entertainment, is quite frankly, somewhat doctrinally correct, but almost always stiff and boring. It’s painful to watch/read/listen to. And that’s when it exists. Because half the time it’s not even there. Case in point, Christian entertainment from an African perspective and context.
I think we struggle with creating great Christian entertainment because entertainment is something that we often consciously and unconsciously ascribe to the devil. Somehow we decided that the devil gets all the fun exciting stuff and we get the boring straight-laced stuff. Not sure how that works out considering our God is the author of joy not the devil. When did we make the pursuit of divine joy sinful?
I long to hear love songs composed by believers who have the revelation of love AND SEX – from God’s perspective; that speak of commitment and faithfulness as God intended it to be; that depict man and woman as healthy sexual beings and marriage and family as divinely inspired institutions.
I long to read/watch great love stories that actually portray how human beings function – how romance can and should look like when it’s overshadowed by God. Not these let’s-keep-the-Holy-Spirit-distance-from-each-other type things out there. I look at how Christian characters are portrayed in some Christian books and movies and I find myself wondering – who lives like that, who reasons like that, who has it altogether perfectly like that – because I sure don’t.
I long to see mystery and fantasy, the world of angels and demons, broken down accurately in movies and books by believers who know the truth of that dimension. Because Hollywood is doing too good a job of making the bad guys look good and the good guys look bad.
I long to be able to relax with a good book or a good movie without having to filter through multiple subtle themes that are a misrepresentation of God’s heart and mind. If anything, even in that moment of rest and relaxation, they reveal God anew to me.
I want to be entertained and find rest in works that exalt God especially in their fun, exciting, breathtaking expression!
My heart aches for accurate representation of the Christian life that can be messy but is always worthwhile; for characters who aren’t always confident in themselves or even in God but who work their way through circumstance into truth; for real-life questions and issues to be tackled from God’s perspective.
I don’t expect Hollywood as a whole to produce Jesus-centric content when they don’t even know Him. They’ll reflect whoever is enthroned in their hearts.
It’s not enough for us to complain when something we don’t like/agree with comes out of Hollywood. Where are our truth-filled alternatives? I’m thankful for the believers God has planted in Hollywood who are actively working towards His purpose. But we can’t leave it to the proverbial two or three gathered there. As Christians, we all have a mandate to be witnesses of who God is and what God does to the world; we have a mandate to be accurate representations of God to the world around us.
I know there’s some good, solid, excellent Christian entertainment out there. But the options are few and far between. We need more labourers in the field. Labourers who are skilled by the Lord, who carry His wisdom to do the work and who are confident of the One they serve.
I have my marching orders for this field. And in the right time and season I’ll be all over the land of Christian fiction. In the meantime, I’m sowing my seeds and preparing for harvest.
If the strength God has put in you is in the areas of media, art and entertainment, above all else, do not fear your strength. Do not shirk it as a vice of the enemy when your Maker placed it in you and called it good. Glorify God with it. Allow Him to teach you and mould you in the way you should go. Allow Him to position you where you are best equipped to stand.
It is your relationship with and revelation of God that will keep you from going down the same road Lucifer did. If God was faithful to start a good work in you, He is equally faithful to keep you as you express it and bear witness to His heart and mind for all the world to see and know He is indeed God.
Do not fear your strength.
Glorify God with it.
“Any area of your life that is not infused with hope is under the influence of a lie.”
– Bill Johnson
Niyi Morakinyo’s book – The 7 Professional Nations: Reconciling Them Back To God – is the genesis of the categorization of the 7 gates as I’m writing about them. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. You can download it from the Joshua Generation Trust website as a free resource. Just click here. 🙂